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University Of California Teaching Assistants Leave Classes. Students: Meh

Many students are gathered outside with signs that say "On Strike! Unfair Labor Practice!"
About 48,000 students are striking for a living wage and in protest of what they say are unfair labor practices by the University of California.
(Adolfo Guzman-Lopez
/
LAist)
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The systemwide strike at the University of California entered its fourth day on Thursday.

About 48,000 students are striking for a living wage and in protest of what they say are unfair labor practices by the University of California.

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University Of California Teaching Assistants Leave Classes. Students: Meh

The workers on strike — three unions that are all part of United Auto Workers — include doctoral students employed to do research, tutors, class readers, and graduate students who teach discussion sections. By going on strike they have largely shut down the work they do in laboratory research, academic support, and teaching the discussion sections.

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UAW 2865 is the union that represents teaching assistants, readers, and tutors.

And at UC Irvine, students interviewed said there wasn't much impact after their teaching assistants walked off the job.

“I noticed some professors just straight up replaced their TAs, so they obviously don't care too much about what they're protesting for,” said first year student Breanna Morter.

It’s unclear how many union members may be crossing picket lines at this campus and systemwide.

At a midday rally on the UC Irvine campus, a union leader told a couple hundred striking workers, “it’s going to be a long battle.” Key to the union’s strike will be to make campuses feel the pain of work that’s not being done.

Canceled discussion sections are having an impact on some students, but it appears other students don’t miss those classes.

“The discussions are there just to make sure you understand the material,” said Leilani Konatsu, an undergraduate bioscience major, “and I'm honestly doing pretty alright in most of my classes.”

Students interviewed said they do support striking workers, some said because they see themselves in their graduate shoes in the near future and others because of the help they’ve received. But education has not ground to a halt at UC Irvine.

In their fight for pay increases, union members are forgoing pay; the length of the strike will depend on which side feels the pain most.

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What questions do you have about higher education?
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez focuses on the stories of students trying to overcome academic and other challenges to stay in college — with the goal of creating a path to a better life.